Class 4A Boys State Tournament
Quarterfinal: Churchland (12-13) versus Louisa County (24-4) at Culpeper Middle School, 7:45 p.m.
The Basics: This is, no matter what happens going forward, a special run for the Lions. A year after getting upended in the Region 4B semifinals by Huguenot, the Lions didn’t just find a way to power themselves into the state tournament, they did it in style, rolling past Courtland in the championship game to earn a favorable site for the state quarters and a shot at advancing to the state final four. The Jefferson District’s Division 3 player of the year Chris Shelton leads the way for the Lions, but he’s got a lot of help with Jarett Hunter running the point and Xavien Hunter taking his already impressive game to another level in the postseason. There’s depth beyond those three too, with Mark Carter, Shylek Washington and Isaac Haywood proving capable of big things in the paint while Reggie Cosby is a steady hand off the bench on the perimeter. Admittedly, a quick look at the records indicate a mismatch, but Churchland is here for a reason, having fought out of Region 4A as a No. 6 seed, falling only in the region final to another team that suddenly caught fire, Lake Taylor, who made a run to the region championship from the No. 9 seed. Sage Mclellan scored 19 for the Truckers in the region final loss and the Lions will need to bring the effort defensively. They’ve been particularly good on that end in the early going, allowing some early offensive pop to put opponents in a hole.
Key Matchup: Churchland contends with shutting off Xavien Hunter and Jarett Hunter off the dribble. Both Louisa’s Hunter cousins are absurdly quick with the ball in their hands and once they get in the lane they’re both creative shot artists and tremendous passers. If they’re at the rim, you’ve already lost, so look for Churchland to try and prevent them from attacking and diving down the lane.
Who to Watch: Louisa’s Isaac Haywood. Haywood absolutely took over in the fourth quarter of the Region 4B final, scoring 19 points in the game with the bulk of them coming in the final quarter. Now he’ll try and provide a similar effort for the Lions underneath, opening things up for an array of scorers and drivers in the Louisa back court.
The line: Louisa County by 3. The Lions can get the job done here, this matchup is pretty favorable and Louisa has played in its own fair share of big games this year.
Class 3A Girls State Tournament
Quarterfinal: William Monroe (21-2) versus Park View-South Hill (17-11) at Orange County, 7 p.m.
The Basics: Ever since falling in the state quarterfinals to Hopewell last year, this is what the Dragons have wanted, a chance to keep playing into March. March is here, and it’s now officially win or go home. Monroe took care of business this year in the Region 3B final, setting themselves up for a more favorable state quarterfinal game instead of the trip to Petersburg to take on Hopewell last season in this round. Sam Brunelle’s return obviously strengthens the lineup which has been productive, efficient and stingy on the defensive end in her absence. That’s been in large part due to performances in the back court by Bryonna Woofter and Hailey Morris and the emergence of Martha Apple, the Northwestern District 3A co-player of the year along with Brunelle. Iyanna Carey has also been an incredible sparkplug. Monroe has work to do in this battle of Dragons on Dragons, they’ve been on this mission all year, can they keep it rolling and find a way to get into the state semifinals?
Key Matchup: Park View tries to contain Brunelle. Any time Brunelle is in the lineup, it forces the opposition to choose — play Brunelle straight up knowing she’ll most likely pour it in and hope the rest of the Dragons don’t go into overdrive or throw some junk defense at her. The Dragons’ supporting cast has proven capable of getting the job done with Brunelle sidelined for the last two months, so that first option isn’t a great one. Look out for how Park View chooses to defend when she’s on the floor.
Who to Watch: William Monroe’s Martha Apple. Apple excelled with Brunelle sidelined, stepping up in a huge way. With Brunelle back last week, Apple’s output didn’t waver, scoring 15 points in the region championship game. If Apple can maintain being a dynamic, efficient threat in the paint while sharing space with Brunelle (and Friday seems to indicate that isn’t going to be an issue), defending the Dragons is going to be a very tall task for any opponent.
The line: William Monroe by 10. The Dragons should keep moving here and take things a step further than they did a year ago.
Quarterfinal: Western Albemarle (25-3) versus Lord Botetourt (26-1) at Roanoke College, 6 p.m.
The Basics: Western Albemarle comes in off a tough defeat in the Region 3C title game where the Warriors were forced to try and get that win after clinching a state tournament berth less than 24 hours before. Now they’ve had an entire week to rest and prepare for the state quarterfinals, where they’ll face a Lord Botetourt team that is the defending state champion and won the Region 3D title Monday with a 48-41 performance against Magna Vista. The Warriors will pit Elisabeth Coffman, now wearing a mask after a nose injury suffered against Brookville in the region semifinals against Botetourt’s own gritty point guard Jenna Alam, who scored 21 points in the Cavaliers’ region semifinal. This will be perhaps the Warriors’ biggest test of the year, and between Parry-McCluer and Spotswood last week, Western has had some tests. Can they rise to the occasion here?
Key Matchup: Western’s Sydney Sherman and Caity Driver try to contain Botetourt’s Miette Veldman. Veldman is a terror on the boards and the JMU volleyball commit scored 29 points and grabbed 24 rebounds in the Region 4D championship game. Western counters with Sherman and Driver who are solid underneath as well, both All-Jefferson District picks. But with Veldman they’ll have their hands full.
Who to Watch: Western’s Annie Meenan. The Warriors are going to need everything they can muster here to hang with a Botetourt team that returned its starting five from last year’s state title run. Meenan is a big part of that package, a clutch shooter who makes very few mistakes. Everyone on the Western roster needs to play big Friday and Meenan is no exception.
The line: Lord Botetourt by 1. The defending state champs should be favored here, but the last time a Western Albemarle basketball team headed to Roanoke, the Western boys shocked Northside last season in the state semifinals
Class 2A Boys State Tournament
Quarterfinal: George Mason (18-8) versus Goochland (22-3) at Mills Godwin, 7 p.m.
The Basics: Goochland repeated as the Region 2A champions, pushing the Bulldogs into a favorable state quarterfinal location. With Deion Harwood, Quincy Snead and Kam Holman, the Bulldogs have an array of scorers who can wreak havoc on opponents. Holman poured in 26 points in the game that clinched a state tournament berth for the Bulldogs and he’s not really the primary scorer, that responsibility usually falls to Harwood. If they’re all three locked in, that’s going to be a real problem for George Mason.
Key Matchup: Goochland looks to lock up Max Ashton and Holman Smith, the Mustangs’ two All-Region 2B picks. One big reason the Bulldogs have won 19 in a row is that except for a few spots, its defense has been on point. Now the defense has to handle Ashton and Smith, a pair of savvy senior guards who complement each other well. Smith is more of a driver and defender, Ashton a marksman from beyond the arc. Figuring out how to contain those two is going to be critical if the Bulldogs want to keep moving on.
Who to Watch: Goochland’s Harwood. The Region 2A player of the year, Harwood had a double double in the region championship game with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-2 guard is a force on the boards and can wreak some havoc as a scorer. The Bulldogs’ offense is at its best when Harwood is getting going in a big way.
The line: Goochland by 1. The Bulldogs can get this done, but they stumbled at this level a year ago. They’ve got their work cut out for them against a Mason team that can play.